“These Interactions Affect How Our Faces Grow”

Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman is decribed wryly as a “hoof-and-foot man” because he studies the extreme ends of the human body–head and feet. In a smart interview in the New York Times conducted by Claudia Dreifus, Lieberman discusses how the bodies we’ve inherited are mismatched for the modern world we’ve created:

“For example, impacted wisdom teeth and malocclusions are very recent problems. They arise because we now process our food so much that we chew with little force. These interactions affect how our faces grow, which causes previously unknown dental problems. Hunter-gatherers — who live in ways similar to our ancestors — don’t have impacted wisdom teeth or cavities. There are many other conditions rooted in the mismatch — fallen arches, osteoporosis, cancer, myopia, diabetes and back trouble. So understanding evolutionary biology will definitely help my students when they become orthopedists, orthodontists and craniofacial surgeons.”


A face growing in Brazil:

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